The International Olympic Committee announced the death on Sunday of former IOC President Jacques Rogge at the age of 79.
Since we were elected as IOC members together, we shared a wonderful bond of friendship, and this continued until his last days, when the entire Olympic movement and I could still benefit from his contribution, in particular on the board of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage. Thomas Bach, IOC President
Rogge, who was from Belgium, led the Olympic movement from 2001 to 2013, succeeding Juan Antonio Samaranch, the Spaniard who was its President for 21 years.
An Olympic sailor at three Olympic Games in the Finn class, in 1968, 1972 and 1976, Rogge moved into sports administration, serving as President of both the Belgium Olympic Committee and European Olympic Committees.
His sailing career saw him win 16 national titles, while he also played rugby for Belgium.
He became the IOC’s Honorary President after leaving the post in 2013.
Paying tribute, current IOC President Thomas Bach, who succeeded Rogge in 2013, said: “The entire Olympic movement will deeply mourn the loss of a great friend and a passionate fan of sport.”
During Rogge’s 12-year tenure, he awarded the 2012 Games to London.
Bach led the many tributes to Rogge on Sunday, adding: “First and foremost, Jacques loved sport and being with athletes – and he transmitted this passion to everyone who knew him. His joy in sport was infectious.
“He was an accomplished president, helping to modernise and transform the IOC.
“He will be remembered particularly for championing youth sport and for inaugurating the Youth Olympic Games.
“He was also a fierce proponent of clean sport, and fought tirelessly against the evils of doping.
“Since we were elected as IOC members together, we shared a wonderful bond of friendship, and this continued until his last days, when the entire Olympic movement and I could still benefit from his contribution, in particular on the board of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.”
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, who led London 2012’s bid, tweeted: “I am beyond sad to hear the news of Jacques passing.
“I wrote to Jacques and Anne 2 weeks ago to tell them that all of us @WorldAthletics missed them at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. I said it wasn’t the same being in the Olympic stadium watching athletics without them …
“I have a mountainous gratitude for his part in the seamless delivery of London 2012. No Org Cttee could have asked or received more.
“He was passionate about sport & all he achieved in sport & beyond was done with common decency, compassion and a level head. We will all miss him.”
Rogge worked as an orthopaedic surgeon and earned a degree in sports medicine.
After standing down as President of the IOC, Rogge was made an Honorary President of the organisation, while also standing as Special Envoy for Youth, Refugees and Sport to the United Nations.
The Olympic flag will be flown at half-mast at all IOC properties for 5 days as a mark of respect.
A public memorial service is set to be held later this year to remember his life and celebrate his contribution to sport.
He was married to Anne and had a son, daughter and two grandchildren.